LETTER: Why $15 minimum wage makes sense

B.C. residents do not make enough money to live above the poverty line.

B.C. residents do not make enough money to live above the poverty line. Right now, the minimum wage is set at $10.25/hour and by September 2015, it will increase by 20 cents. The raise is a frivolous attempt at solving a problem that is only getting worse. A $15 an hour minimum wage is a very realist solution to financial burdens.

Recent statistics show that 120,000 workers in B.C. are paid only the minimum wage and over half a million earn $15 or less. BC is already behind projected costs of living. In Victoria, the 2008 living wage was estimated at $16.39; for 2014, it was projected at $18.93. The reality is local politicians have an agenda that is out of touch with reality. British Columbia’s Jobs Minister, Shirley Bond, shows logic that revolves around outdated economic beliefs that high wages will stop job creation. There is no research to back up this argument. However, in 2003, UC Berkeley Labor Center did a review of 64 studies on minimum wage increases; they found no discernible effect on employment.

Another political point revolves around the massive increase of goods and services. Realistically things are getting more expensive regardless of minimum wage increase. This is ever more true for local university students. Tuition at the University of Victoria is steadily increasing. It went up by 2 per cent in 2013 and again in 2014. The cost of rent at the University of Victoria’s residences is slated to increase by 13 per cent by September 2015, compounded by 6 per cent increases the following two years and 4 per cent each year until 2025. Education is steadily costing more, yet the wages stays the same. A 20-cent raise will do nothing. So how will it all work? We must look at Seattle Wash., which has already planned to increase their living wage to $15/hour. Their politicians agreed to increase the minimum wage by $1 every April until 2019.

San Francisco is slated to follow the same model. Their mayor plans to reach the $15 wage before Seattle. A proactive solution to solving the poverty problem, both cities have the right idea in listen to the people. Hard work should lift anyone out of poverty.

What is stopping us from moving down there? If other cities can do it, we can, too. It is our democratic right to seek a means of answering social problems. A 20-cent raise for the minimum wage is a mockery towards the people who are struggling to make ends meet. B.C. Premier Christy Clark has clearly stated that she is against the increase. British Columbia’s officials need to be held accountable.

An even simpler call to action can come from writing to your local MLA. Highlight the need to stop playing catch-up with other major cities, like Seattle and San Francisco. Vote in the next election and remove the politicians who have an augmented reality towards social problems. Demand that the minimum wage be raised to $15 an hour.

Lawrence LiSaanich